Wednesday 26 March 2008

Homecoming of the White Sweater

In August 2004, I went to Hay-on-Wye for the first time on a book buying binge with Howard and Stephanie. Somewhere in the middle of a day full of bookshops, I fell in love with a knitting pattern from a book of 1980's designer knits. Stupidly, I put the book back on the shelf, arguing that it wasn't worth paying £7.50 for one pattern in a book full of 1980's shoulder-padded nightmares. A big mistake. That sweater haunted me: in my memory it was a winter-white cable which started in (probably) K4P4 rib; about half way up, the middle ribs formed the first of a heart-shaped cable, then other ribs joined in, cabling out in a triangle from this base until the shoulders were completely covered in heart shaped cables. The design repeated itself up the sleeves. The more I thought about it, the more I kicked myself for not buying the book.

After two weeks, I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to work in Worcester for the day, so cut out early and drove the extra 40 miles back to Hay to track it down. I couldn't remember what it was called, which shop it was in or when we had visited that shop. Stephanie, God bless her, did and emailed me rough directions. I got to Hay at 4.10pm and began running through the shops, backtracking our steps, praying I'd find it before the shops started closing up at 5pm. It was in the third store I entered, Addyman Books, on the shelf where I'd left it!

It's Eloise, from Christian de Falbe's "Designs in Handknitting", published in 1988 or 1989. Isn't it stunning? I remember phoning DH in triumph, "I found it! I found it!". I was on top of the world.

Eighteen months later, it reached the top of the "To Knit List" and I started work in Rowan's Cashmerino DK. Six months later, I finished the last sleeve, sewed up a shoulder seam and knitted the neck. Then, somehow, I stalled. My beautiful sweater languished in the knitting basket, while I whizzed through multiple pairs of socks, a cardigan, and the Reynold's Lace Tee. I finally stitched up the last seam in January.

It seemed only fitting to wear it on our trip back to Hay-on-Wye.

And to take it back to the bookshop where it all started, Addyman Books.

- Pam

Tuesday 18 March 2008


Books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, yarn, books, books, books, books, books, sock yarn, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, new yarn shop, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, knitting patterns, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, sock yarn, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books.

- Pam (did I mention that I bought books?)

Sunday 16 March 2008

And we're off......

It's the week before Easter and DH and I are taking advantage of the four day week/Bank Holidays to have a little holiday. The trigger was a wedding on Easter Thursday somewhere near Liverpool.


We'll be visiting Hay-on-Wye for two nights (the second-hand book capital of the UK or possibly the world!). My goal is to find a recipe book that was published during World War 2.

Second step of our trip is Chester. Our plan is to visit the Roman ruins, browse the shops and sleep! Looks like we'll miss the food festival by a few days.

Third stop is
Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club (DH's team, mine is Chelsea). We'll be doing the Stadium Tour, visiting the museum and hopefully stepping out onto the pitch. DH has a list of things he wants to buy from the Liverpool Shop, including a couple of surprise presents for other Liverpool supporters.

Fourth is Jon's wedding. It's in a country house hotel somewhere outside Liverpool (I don't actually know where - I can never remember the name of the place).

Fifth is our stagger home down the M6/M42/M40 on Easter Saturday. If we want to stop for the night somewhere we will, but chances are we'd have got to the stage of wanting to sleep in our own bed by then.

What to knit

Since I'll only have to do half of the driving, I'll have loads of time to knit.

I've decided this is a sock knitting trip. Plain socks. I learned my lesson in Canada - you can't knit a twisted rib pattern in the dark when you can't see to continually check the pattern for
"And what do I do now?". This is also part of my "use it up" drive, since I'm planning to use up the leftovers from two more pairs of socks. (Am I the only knitter who tries to use up those half-balls of yarn that get left over at the end of a project? They offend my frugality.)

I'm also packing the yarn to make a scarf for Kim for her birthday - that will take 4 hours. And the
Must Have Cardigan for working on in the evenings. And yarn for another sock in case I run out in the car. And.....


Friday 14 March 2008

The Yarn Harlot's story about packing extra yarn for her daughter made me laugh yesterday when I finally got to read it. When I travel, my first and most panicky thoughts are "What will I read?" (you don't want to run out of book half way through a trip) and "What knitting shall I pack?".

In fact, yesterday morning it took me twice as long to decide what knitting to take - do I start a new sock? Or just take the Must Have Cardigan? - than it did to work out which clothes I'd be wearing for my two day business trip. In the end, I packed the Must Have Cardigan. Don't know why I was so worried - it's not as if anyone will allow me to actually knit at the airport or on the plane! Could someone PLEASE tell the European airlines/airports that the EU changed the rules TWO YEARS AGO and declared knitting a safe activity!

The book was easier. I decided that on Tuesday. I'm currently reading the story of the Grameen Bank after hearing it's founder, Mohammed Yunnis, interviewed on the radio. It is an eye opener! I'll write a review of it after I finish.

- Pam

Thursday 13 March 2008


The new Knitty is up and I've fallen in love with this: I wonder, would Reynold's Saucy do?

- Pam

Poor little neglected blog

I'm still alive - just haven't had much time lately to give you the attention you deserve. I have several stories to tell you and several sets of photos to post. There are even sheep in one of them.

I promise you a real post, soon.

- Pam (No, I haven't been knitting much either.)

Saturday 1 March 2008

Process vs Product

I have come to the conclusion that I have become a process knitter. Once-upon-a-time, it was all about product: I enjoyed the knitting, but I couldn't wait to sew up the garment and wear it. Not now. Now, I can't wait to cast on the next thing.

I have all but finished the Soft Sweater with Patterned Yoke. It just needs a light block, seaming of the left shoulder, knitting-up the neck, and then sewing up all the other seams. It has lurked accusingly in its knitting bag for the past two weeks, poking out the top to remind me of its presence, making me feel guilty whilst I've turned my attention to the Must Have Cardigan. It is nagging me to finish it.

I'm feeling guilty enough as it is. My UFO list consists entirely of stuff that needs sewing up. Remember the Reynold's Lace Tee? It's waited at least six months to be sewn up (I rationalised that it is too cold to think about wearing summer tops, but even so...).

Then there is a shawl collared "blouse" from the 1930's that I finished knitting TWO years ago. It doesn't even require much seaming, since it has a yoke knitted mainly in the round. I can't rationalise leaving that alone, now, it's cold and the blouse would be perfect to wear to work with my suit. But still it lurks in the knitting basket.

The only thing I've really completed recently is the white sweater in this photo:

And I'm still waiting to get a decent photo of it. (There is a long and involved story behind this sweater, which I'll tell when I've got that photo to show it off.) This sweater waited a year for it's seams and took months to sew up - I'd do a bit and then abandon it, answering the siren call of the needles.

I guess it all boils down to sewing the seams. A couple of years ago, I got paranoid about sewing decent seams. Before then, I'd just whip-stitch the seams and they'd look pretty rubbish but I thought everyone else's were like that too. Then I read the comments on seams in the back of one of my knitting books and realised that mine were a mess and I'd been doing them all wrong. I had to re-learn my seaming technique. It took time. I kept rechecking the book for instructions, so my new seams were much slower to sew. Oh, and I discovered blocking, taking the Yarn Harlot's comments to heart. Again, that slowed me down and became another obstacle in the finishing-off process.

Excuses, excuses. There is no excuse that is good enough. I have plans for these clothes. If I could only bring myself to sew them up. I could wear them now (yes, even the Tee - it can go to work under a suit jacket). We have no plans for today - we have a new garden cupboard being delivered - so it is a perfect day for finishing things off. At the least, I could block the Soft Sweater....

- Pam (Procrastinators'r'Us)